On Wednesday the Winnipeg Free Press ran a story about the new Manitoba First Nations School System and used the Sergeant Tommy Prince School on the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation to illustrate the changes that are happening because of increased government funding for First Nations schools. In the case of Sergeant Tommy Prince School funding per child has nearly tripled.
According to the Free Press article as well as one on the CBC website the increased funding is being used for all kinds of things including new library books, tablets for every child, new backpacks and school supplies for all the students, and the creation of a more culturally appropriate curriculum. The item that caught my eye however is that some of the funding is being used to increase teacher salaries to make them comparable to those in other school divisions in Manitoba.
I think qualified indigenous teachers who understand the communities in which they teach and can serve as role models for children are the key to the success of the new school system.
I work with university education students. Some indigenous students upon graduation choose to teach in Winnipeg where they can earn higher salaries and where their own children have more education opportunities. I totally understand this and know these teachers will make a difference in the Winnipeg schools where they work. But there is also a need for qualified indigenous teachers in First Nations communities. Hopefully better salaries, resources and facilities will encourage more indigenous education graduates to teach in the many schools that are part of the new Manitoba First Nations School System.